Families in Los Angeles and San Bernardino have filed new legal actions asserting school districts were negligent in dealing with months of bullying of two students who were finally driven to the point of attempting suicide.
In both cases, the 13 year old girls were subjected to vulgar taunts and at times physical abuse, and both had to be rushed to emergency rooms after consuming potentially lethal substances--in one case a cup of bleach, in the other an overdose of pills.
The San Bernardino girl attended Arrowview Middle School. She has since transferred. The Los Angeles girl attended Endeavor College Preparatory Middle School in Boyle Heights. She is now being home schooled.
Both are represented by Pasadena-based attorney Brian Claypool, who filed a lawsuit against the San Bernardino Unified School District, and a claim for damages against the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Endeavor school administration failed to take sufficient action even after the girl's therapist called the school principal to urge intervention, according to her grandmother and Claypool.
"It is beyond heartbreaking to have a 13 year old girl tell you she is ready to die," said Claypool.
"It is our policy and practice to investigate any allegation of bullying in a thorough and timely manner," reads in part a statement issued by Endeavor, citing privacy rights of minors in declining to discuss the specific allegations.
"While we take these situations very seriously, we cannot comment on student matters or on-going litigation," stated LAUSD.
"We can reassure the public that we take matters of student safety very seriously," reads in part the statement issued by San Bernardino Unified. "Bullying prevention continues to be at the forefront of our work."
Claypool previously has sued the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District on behalf of the family of bullied student Rosalie Avila, who took her own life last November. Her parents joined the mother of the San Bernardino girl and the grandmother of the Los Angeles girl at Tuesday's news conference.
"Everytime i see somebody else suffer it just opens fresh wounds in our life." said Fred Avila.
Mesa View Middle School, which Avila attended, was aware of the ongoing bullying against the student, and the tragedy gained added attention because the family was willing to speak publicly about the tragedy.
After the incident, Avila's family pushed for "Rosie's Law," which aimed to require school districts to notify the parent of the bully when there is any report of bullying. The family has met with a state lawmaker to discuss potential legislation that would require schools and districts to take additional anti-bullying actions.
"We want change," Avila said.